Bonner rock'n the hardwareBy JOHN HABIB
New Hampshire Union Leader
July 10. 2014 8:06PM
Last week it was the NHL’s Stanley Cup making its most recent appearance in the New Hampshire, courtesy of Hubie McDonough III, Director of Hockey Operations for the Manchester Monarchs, the top minor-league affiliates of the champion Los Angeles Kings.
This week, it’s the NBA’s Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy paying a visit to the Granite State, thanks to Concord’s Matt Bonner of the champion San Antonio Spurs.
Bonner, winner of two titles with the Spurs during a 10-year NBA career, planned two public displays of the O’Brien trophy: Friday at Concord’s Rundlett Middle School, where he conducts his basketball camp; and Saturday at Portsmouth’s Redhook Brewery, where he and his brother, Luke, will be hosting their second annual Sneakers and Speakers Music Festival to benefit their nonprofit Rock On Foundation.
This is at least the second time an O’Brien Trophy has been in New Hampshire — Celtics great John Havlicek brought it to Manchester-Boston Regional Airport as part of a promotion for Southwest Airlines during the 2008 NBA Finals — but the first time it’s been here with Matt Bonner.
According to Luke Bonner, the trophy was due to arrive in New Hampshire from South America, where it was in the possession of Spurs teammate Manu Ginobili of Argentina. Adding the trophy to a list of attractions already featuring some of country’s hottest indie rock acts — including Okkervil River, Kevin Devine and the Whigs — is expected to boost attendance at Sneakers and Speakers to more than 2,000, Luke said.
Okkervil River, Luke added, has become a sort of good-luck charm for Matt and the Spurs.
The first time the brothers planned a benefit concert, in 2007, they booked Okkervil River, in part because the band’s lead singer and songwriter, Will Sheff, grew up in Plainfield. The Spurs went on to beat LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. This year, after the Bonners arranged to bring the band back to New Hampshire, San Antonio went on to beat James and the Miami Heat for the title.
Gates for the festival, an age 21-and-over event, open at 2:30 p.m., and Matt Bonner will be available to pose with fans and the trophy from then until 3:30.
Proceeds from the event, Luke said, will help the Rock On Foundation fund programs in athletics and the arts, particularly in Granite State communities where school programs have been cut. Past benefits have have funded renovations to public basketball courts and scholarships for underprivileged youngsters active in art and music.
The Bonners also have hosted music events as fundraisers in San Antonio, where Matt has played for the Spurs since 2006 and where Luke has ties not only through his brother but also as a former member of the Spurs’ D-League developmental team.
Whether Matt returns to San Antonio, however, remains a question. Currently a free agent, he hopes the Spurs attempt to re-sign him, said his brother.
“I can only tell you that Matt’s No. 1 choice is to return to San Antonio and play for the Spurs,” Luke said. “I’m sure every player in the league right now would love to play for the Spurs.”
A 6-foot, 10-inch forward, Matt Bonner averaged 11.3 minutes, 3.2 points and 2.1 rebounds during the 2013-14 regular season and 6.2 minutes, 1.2 points and 0.6 rebounds during the playoffs. His career averages include 6.2 points and 3.2 rebounds.
Tickets for Saturday’s concert are $15 in advance and $25 on Saturday. Advance tickets can be purchsed online at http://rockonfoundation.eventbrite.com.